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Mental Health Awareness Week - Living with Bipolar One

This week is Mental Health Awareness Week which gives Essex Partnership University NHS Foundation Trust (EPUT) an opportunity to improve awareness and understanding of mental health conditions, and to break the stigma surrounding mental health.

As part of the awareness week we have spoken to Liz Rotherham, one of our Lived Experience Ambassadors and CEO of mental health charity Heads2Mind, who was told she had bipolar one in 2003.

People with bipolar one disorder — also known as type 1 bipolar disorder — experience mania, which describes periods of high energy and excitement that may last for a week or more. Typically, a person will also experience periods of depression or a neutral mood.

Since Liz's diagnosis she has been sectioned numerous times including one recent admission.

Liz wanted to take the opportunity to explain what it is like to live with the stigma of having bipolar and also to outline some of the plus points of the condition.

She said: “I was diagnosed with having bipolar in 2003 and I was in denial for many years. I had a lot of trauma and tried different therapies to help me such as CBT and alternative therapies. I was an inpatient and was sectioned numerous times.

“Since my diagnosis I have definitely had my ups and downs. I have experienced stigma and lost friends because of it. People see your diagnosis rather than you as a person which is extremely sad as you feel like you don't have a voice and can't get away from it.

“When I was first diagnosed there wasn't as much awareness as there is now, which was tough.

“Back then there was a lack of education around bipolar and still is today to a certain extent.

“I experience mainly the manic part of bipolar, which can have misconceptions and sometimes the portrayal can be seen as dangerous."

Liz, who started working for Heads2Mind four years ago as the CEO, said she has learned a lot from her diagnosis and has used it to help and support others with the same diagnosis.

She said: “It has been extremely challenging at times although now having more of an insight into my diagnosis, this has allowed me to use my creativity and provide a different perspective on how people see things. It's been a gift on one hand and rather than live in the past, I use my lived experience to help others who are now going through their own journey.

“I have written my first book about having bipolar called Life As A Roller Coaster: The Mayhem of Bipolar, and have also been privileged to work with the NHS to hopefully make things better for the future by talking about my lived experience."

Liz's book is available to buy on

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